Prayag (place of Sacrifice), is no longer a historian’s paradise. A city where god resides, now called Allahabad is both rich in culture and heritage as well as in its alluring markets. From thin lanes to the multi-brands the city is flickering in its climactic way.
Allahabad, the name derived from the one given to the city once in the history by Mughal Emperor Akbar, ‘Ilahabad’. ‘Ilah’ being Arabic for “god” and ‘-abad’, a Persian word for “to construct or to create”. It is a sacred city formerly called ‘Prayag’ in commemoration of a sacrifice done by Lord Brahma. It is best known as host to the mind boggling number of Kumbh pilgrims who visit this endearing city every 12 years. The most common sacred spot in Allahabad is Triveni Sangam, the confluence of three of the holiest rivers of the Hindu mythology, the holy Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. Devout Hindus from all over India come to this sacred pilgrimage point to offer prayers and take a dip in the holy waters. It is believed that a holy dip taken at the Sangam washes away all sins.
The religious vehement has affected the people residing here, as the city is also called Tirtha- Raja, the king of all holy places. The Kumbh mela (fair) is considered especially auspicious. It draws about 15 million people and is the largest attended event in the world.
Kumbh mela is like a “Yogi convention”, where Yogi Sadhus (saints), holy people and pilgrims come from all over India. Many Sadhus come from various holy places, the most remote forests and mountain caves in the Himalayas. The most famous are Naga Babas, Shiva worshippers who are completely naked. They cover their bodies only with ash and wear their hair in dreadlocks which attracts huge number of people not only from India, but also across the globe.
Apart from the religious touch, the city of Amitabh Bachchan have a twist in the world of fashion, brand awareness among the generation Y and the typical people residing here. It is noticed that youths are brand victims and go for the brands like Levi’s, Killer, Lee, Madame, etc. The renowned universities, institutes and colleges that are famous not only in India but also throughout the world have huge capacity of students pursuing their education are highly fashionista. AllahabadUniversity also called the “Oxford of the East” gives scholars who are always in vogue with time. The crowd of Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology (MNNIT), one of the premier technology school of India and Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (IIIT-A) looks highly influenced by metalheads.
There are a number of small and large-scale industries in Allahabad district that play a vital role in the economy of the district. To name a few popular industries of the district are Triveni Sheet Glass Ltd, ITI Naini, Raymond Synthetics, Hindustan Cable Ltd Naini, IFFCO, and GEEP Industries. The renowned institutions like HarishChandraMehtaAtomicResearchCenter and CivilAviationTrainingCenter are also established here. The overall environment gives an amalgam of ethnic and verge of fashion.
Khadi Kurta’s and Pyjama is popular among the typical Allahabadi males, and Chikankari, work of art is classic among everyone. One would definitely have a couple of this in the wardrobe. Chiffon and georgette saris with zari embroidery and stone work which is usually done by the local Muslims women in their home worn by mostly married females. In the ceremonies, majority is seen in saris or kurta with heavy embroidery work, mirror bangles shining more than the lighting of ambience and vermillion on the forehead complete the kit.
The emerging season of wedding add glister and glitter in the markets. The main shopping areas like Civil Lines, Katra and Chowk seen in all vibrant colors. Women shopping for saris, dress materials, footwear to suit the occasion. The sales of matching center increases as the purchased saris will have a matching blouse and dress material look for dupatta to make it complete and no longer anachronistic. Even the hypermarket Big Bazaar located in Atlantis Mall, civil lines, has merchandise for this season.
When a mall was opened in Allahabad, it was the matter of excitement for its inhabitants and they find the place for picnic and outing with the family. Allahabad’s only shopping mall, Atlantis is owned by Ajay Singh, son of former Prime Minister of India, V. P. Singh. The mall has a Big Bazaar, Reebok outlet, Adidas showroom, and brand outlets of Madame, Octave, Wills Lifestyle, John Players, Lee, Wrangler, Levi’s, etc. Filling stations are Mc Donald’s and Kafe Kona which invites plenty number of footfalls. Local resident Rita Srivastava spotted at Mc Donald’s says, “It is really cool that Mc D has opened in Allahabad. The city was in need of such renowned eating out place. My children demand to come here every weekend and it’s a good outing in a small city. Although they have less variety as compared to the Mc D’s in tier I cities but we all are loving it”. Here Mc D doesn’t provide various types of floats. The mall has also a Planet M store and attracts plenty of crowd. Now resident prefer going to Big Bazaar to buy groceries rather than buying from the commodity store nearby their house. The offers provided by the Big Bazaar have an overwhelming response by the localites. Big Bazaar was opened on Nov 11th, 2006. It is the 36th Big Bazaar in the country and fourth in Uttar Pradesh after Gaziabad, Lucknow and Agra. The multi-level store provides shoppers with 40,000 square feet of shopping experience 365 days a year. Service class people go on Sundays or Holidays as the main shops are closed on these days. Locals prefer coming here as they can extract the maximum out of the monthly budgets and get their household requirement under one roof. The mall will soon have a multiplex.
Salasar Retail Ltd, or Salasar, opened was the first retail outlet in Allahabad, and today running successfully. It is a multi-story outlet serves starting from groceries to apparels and footwear, large-format store Incorporated in 2006. Its competitor Vishal Mega mart came to the city soon after the opening of Salasar. Being able to serve the versatile needs of lifestyle conscious consumers within a span of more than two years, the company targets middle and lower income group. Spencer’s retail, the largest multiformat retailer chain in India was also opened last year. The stores stock the necessary range and assortment in fruit and vegetables, FMCG food and non-food, staples and frozen foods and cater to the daily and weekly top-up shopping needs of the consumer. Soon after its success in the city another store was opened to provide convenience and comfort to the consumers. Now, the city has two Spencer’s store.
Besides the mall and retail outlets, city of Sangam has vast number of brand outlets. Peter England, Parx, Louis Philippe, Spykar, Khadims, Lilliput, K-Lounge, Koutons, Park Avenue, Raymond, etc. have good space here. City also has Style Spa furniture retail showroom and Electronic retail, Asha and Company top the list by providing all reputed electronic brands and products. It is the biggest showroom of electronics in Allahabad. Other retailers here are Archies, Tanishq, The World of Titan, etc and Salon of Shahnaz Hussain and Lakme are also in the race to extol the customers.
Premium Family Store
Madan Collection, owned by Sachdev Brothers is the most renowned store in Allahabad, situated in the posh area of Civil Lines offers the widest variety of merchandise and a lot of choice in terms of brands under one roof. The store targets upper middle class. The shop has just about everything apparel, accessories, eyewear, watches, fragrances and lingerie’s. It also offers services to the customers of home delivery, alteration, old clothes which needs changes of elastic and zippers, knowing customers by name, keeping records of their birthdays which give personal touch to the customers. The store has a good reputation among the customers and they prefer walking the store rather than moving towards the brand outlets. It has around 30 brands. The main brands are Allen Solly, Van Huesen, Levi’s, Pepe Jeans, Zodiac and Color Plus. The premium brands are Espirit, Ray Ban and Pierre Cardin. The owner of the shop, Karan Sachdev said, “Initially it was a setback when giant ventures like Big Bazaar opened, but now it is settled and again the store is in the form”.
The store enjoys it highest sale during the pre Diwali and Eid Season but also the response during the wedding season is good as the customers prefer casual wear during the Diwali time and more ethnic in the season of wedding. The daily footfall is more than 200, on weekdays and Saturdays, the store remains closed on Sundays; the conversion rate is 85-90 percent. “The store is ten years old and has a turnover of 3-4 crores per year”, Sachdev added. It has fragrance from Espirit and Davidoff and purchased by the limited and royal customers. The demand also forced them to stock the accessories and apparels from Satya Paul and Rocky S. The store is not permitted to bargaining, but they have membership schemes for the customers. On an annual purchase of Rs. 20,000 and above the store offers free purchase of 10 percent.
Sachdev further quotes, “Some customers are not aware of the brand but they have good money and get good buy. They are loyal customers and mainly of 30 to 40 years of age. We make them aware of the brands and provide them merchandise from the premium brands and designers”. The advertisement is mainly done by the print media as the rates of hoardings are pretty high. The store has no direct competition in the city and planning for its expansion by opening another store in the city and introducing more international brands for their customers. They prefer giving eco- friendly paper bags rather than the non usable plastic ones.
Gangotri – The land of Ganga.
This showroom, owned by the Govt. of Uttar Pradesh, also called UP Export Corporation is in the verge of extinction. The shop has nice and decent variety of Handloom and Handicraft products which are made in Uttar Pradesh and has its unique specialty and importance. They have a sale of around 1 crore per year and after entering the giants like Big Bazaar, Style Spa and other outlets in the city, the store has faced the high level of competition. The customers entering in the store has decreased by 30 percent within a year. The showroom has Banarasi Silk Saris ranging from Rs.2000 to Rs 12000, woven by the poor weavers with fine zari work. The glimpse of each sari can easily charm a shopaholic. The store also has Brass ware and white metal utensils from Moradabad, Chikankari sari and kurta from Lucknow, Shawls from Garhwal, Carpets and Durries from Bhadohi, Handloom cotton bed sheets and furnishings coming from Meerut and Gaziabad and finely crafted by the inlay work of brass the furniture from Saharanpur. All furniture has unique carving done on the wood and looks magnificent.
The costumers are reputed doctors, advocates, judges and politicians based in the city. High Court is situated in the heart of the city and has large number of lawyers and judge. Allahabad has given the seven of Prime Ministers of India. “The Government is commercially promoting the business and due to the lack of advertising the costumers are decreasing. We give discount of 10 percent to the VIP’s and offer festival and clearance discount with season,” said S.B. Singh, Showroom Manager. He added, “Daily 100- 150 customers walk in the store and 80 percent make purchases”. The shop is closed on Sundays and also has Visa card pay facility.
The city will have more retail complexes in the coming year. Pantaloon and Westside are heading towards Allahabad soon. Under the franchise deal, Trent, the Tata Group’s Retail Company will own and provide the stock to the upcoming department store, Westside. Neeti Chopra, head of marketing, Trent, said, “The Company will own stores in top 30 cities and open stores under the franchise route in the rest of the cities. The franchise route will help us to overcome the property challenge in these cities and scale up our operations quickly. We will also get the first mover advantage in these cities, which do not have much retail presence,” Chopra said.
Café Coffee Day and Baskin Robbins opened few months back has become the popular hangout place for the youth as it is in the high profile area Civil Lines and near to the various colleges. The rentals for space in the Civil Lines are higher than the other areas. Individual shops in this area also have high rate than any other street in Allahabad as it is considered to be one of the main area for shopping. The city development chart is increasing per day and more domestic and international brands are finding their place to settle down.
The localites are getting aware of the latest trends and brands. Youths were spotted wearing slim fits, ultra low waist, cling fit and 501 from Levi’s, body tattooed and pierced. Thus, concluded that the brands outlets are at par by opening their stores here. Domestic brand Monte Carlo, of Oswal Woollen Mills, which launched a new store in the city recently, has experienced this growth. Shakeel Ahmed, owner of the shop says, “Response from the customers is good as we are advertising through radio FM and conversion rate is 70-75 percent”. Need for diversifying has motivated him to take franchise. These stores have brought a revolution in the holy city and the growth rate is giving opportunities for more retail companies to become a part of the king of all holy places, Allahabad.